All right, perhaps there’s something to superstitions when it comes to Chicago’s storied baseball team. Last night’s defeat of the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 was their eighth straight victory and their 70th win of the season. Folks, the last time they accomplished 70 wins this fast was 1945-the last time they made it to the World Series.
It’s an amazing turn of events since the All Star Break. The Cubs are 12-4 in interleave play this season. It bodes well for the playoffs. The fact that veteran starter John Lackey is settling in lately, really provides stability in the rotation. Collecting his ninth win of the season, Lackey pitched eight innings giving the bullpen a little break and further lowering the Cubs ERA to 2.58, the best in baseball. What Lackey brings to the North Side is experience, emotion and that winning attitude. When he says he’s here for the jewelry, he means it.
“That’s who he is,” Maddon said. “He’s always been that guy. He’s not going to be out there smiling. He’s going to be upset with umpires. He’s going to be upset with his manager. He’s going to be upset with teammates on occasion. That’s just who he is. And when you know that, it’s OK. You love having him on your team.”
On a young squad, the Cubs need to be told when they’re good and when they’re not so great. Lackey doesn’t mince his words.
“You can’t stifle him,” Ben Zobrist said of his emotional teammate. “He’s definitely got to have some emotion out there. He’s been great. That emotion carries over to the rest of the team too. You have to be on your toes out there. He’s one of the biggest competitors on this team.”
One of the downfalls of being on a stacked team like the Cubs is that sometimes there’s no room for good players and they’re forced out of the lineup. This is the case with Tommy La Stella. La Stella decided to return home than play for Triple A Iowa. This isn’t being a poor sport, I don’t see it that way. In an age where players are traded almost on a yearly basis, guys like La Stella are loyal to their respective clubs.
“We’re trying to understand where he’s coming from, empathize with him, give him his space,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “He’s 27 years old and dealing with this on a somewhat public stage.”
There’s no question of his worth and he wants to be a part of the Chicago Cubs organization. He’s a good ballplayer and wants to be a part of the Cubs journey to the World Series.
“Everybody that walks through those doors, we’re happy to have them,” right fielder Jason Heyward said. “Especially someone like La Stella, who contributes so much even when he isn’t playing. He’s a guy that spoke up during the game, rooting us on and things like that. Stuff like that is missed. If you see someone like that, who brings that every day, when he comes into the clubhouse, you welcome him back with open arms every time.”
“It’s a reflection of where I am in my life and my career,” La Stella said. “I told them, ‘I know you have a business decision to make.’ I completely understand where they’re coming from. I don’t fault them for making that choice one bit. They’re doing what’s in the best interest of the team. I understand that 100 percent.”